Defensive Carry banner

41 - 61 of 61 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
19,593 Posts
Discussion Starter #41
With those calibers and .45 available, why did police hang on to .38 Special for so long? Even cops that had choices.
Exactly. It dominated in the LE world for 70+ years until the autos started becoming standardized.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13,724 Posts
With those calibers and .45 available, why did police hang on to .38 Special for so long? Even cops that had choices.
Mostly economics and politics. I was fortunate to work where Politics was not much of an issue, I could qualify with magnums and afford the gun and ammo. many were also limited to dept issue. Look at NYPD for example. The popular LRN was dubbed "widowmaker" because of all the police widows it created.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,795 Posts
Exactly. It dominated in the LE world for 70+ years until the autos started becoming standardized.
Yep. And I remember when the autos came in, they were viewed with suspicion for a while. Cops I knew would still carry .38 snubbies as back up and off duty for a while.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
328 Posts
Yes, as many others have said, it is a versatile cartridge with a proven street track record. Sufficiently powerful with great "shootability". Nostalgic for me too. When I came of age to get more serious about guns and shooting, it was pretty much wheel guns in .38 special/.357 magnum calibers. Many miles down the road now and I still feel most comfortable with a revolver in this caliber.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
958 Posts
Mostly economics and politics. I was fortunate to work where Politics was not much of an issue, I could qualify with magnums and afford the gun and ammo. many were also limited to dept issue. Look at NYPD for example. The popular LRN was dubbed "widowmaker" because of all the police widows it created.
At that time, was the preferred alternative the 45 auto?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19,593 Posts
Discussion Starter #48 (Edited by Moderator)

·
Registered
Joined
·
13,724 Posts
At that time, was the preferred alternative the 45 auto?
I Carried a 45 in the Army until 1982. As a civilian cop I had a choice from 1982 until 1996 Colt or S&W 38 or 357 magnum. I always carried a 357. Single action auto's were generally frowned upon in LE for most agencies.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,353 Posts
When it comes down to it the .38 is/was the revolver version of the 9mm today. It wasn’t the most powerful, but it was powerful enough. It is easy to shoot, accurate with light recoil. It came/comes in guns that were small and light enough to be practical to carry. Ammo is not bulky and extra ammo is easy to carry too. It’s just a solid choice.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
436 Posts
With those calibers and .45 available, why did police hang on to .38 Special for so long? Even cops that had choices.
there was a lack of variety of duty autos for many of those years....and heaven forbid, some agencies shuddered at the thought of cocked and locked carry.....it was "offensive" and "dangerous"....

but when our military retired the 1911 and bought into the higher capacity da/sa beretta.....it was off to the races....with many varieties and variants to argue about.....and more caliber wars as well...
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
7,998 Posts
Just spitballing, but:

1) There are millions of .38 SPCL revolvers that have been around for decades, and those millions and more will be around for many more decades, so there's that demand
2) The .38 SPCL revolver seems to be a "go to" handgun recommendation for novice gun owners that want a "home defense gun," so there's that demand
3) It's a very popular hand loading cartridge, so there's a demand for components
4) It's a very versatile cartridge, and loads can be selected for a variety of different shooters, so it appeals to many

In other words, the .38 SPCL seems to be a profitable line for both ammo manufactures and gun manufacturers, and seems to be a caliber that can be sold to just about everyone.

Gun owners will have the .38 SPCL as an option for many, many years to come.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
759 Posts
Most of what I was going to say has been covered by other responses. Reloading will bring out the best in the cartridge. Everything from low and slow up to and including the speeds of the "wonder 9".

Despite the (my assumption) condescending opinions of the tacticool crowd, I think the 38 special is an effective caliber, providing that you do your research, and get the right ammo, that has been proven effective. The heavy for caliber 158 gr on down to the faster 115 gr rounds should prove very effective, with me personally probably giving the nod to rounds in no less than 124gr, and preferring the 158s.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
18,725 Posts
Yea Chuck!

Yea .38 Special!

Fully equal to anything the 9mm can do.

Despite conventional wisdom, the overrated 9mm is not more powerful and ain't got nuthin' on .38 Special as far as terminal ballistics go and .38 Special can use heavier and more effective bullets that don't require conforming to feed ramp requirements.

9mm's only advantage is that it can be had in pistols that hold lots a' bullets.

It's time for the Pile 'o .38 Specials photo. It must be stated that no revolvers were harmed in the production of this pile. This photo is now 12 years old and several more .38 Special revolvers have come to roost here. No .38 Special revolvers have left.


I like ol' .38 Special which has always been good to me. It's been employed here for many years as the most used field cartridge, taking game and critter large and small, mostly with a 4-inch barreled revolver. With good hits .38 Special works every time.



.38 Specialed piggies in a photo our youngest son texted me. Probably about 25 and 40 pounds. Four of 'em found on an interior road on our old place on the lake as my youngest son and and his friend went in late the night before closing weekend of deer season in January. Two skedaddled. Two foolishly stayed in the road about 10 yards in front of the truck's headlights. Our son took the smaller one as it ran toward him in a rut of the road. Bullet entered just above the left eye and exited out through the spinal column about half way down the back. Other pig was hit a bit far back as it disappeared into the brush and disabled, but required a finishing shot. My son used his Smith & Wesson Model 10 Heavy Barrel loaded with +P 158 grain SWCs and his friend used a Smith & Wesson Model 13 .357 Magnum, both revolvers being loaded with .38 Special ammunition, but I don't know the kind of ammunition our son's friend used .38 Special will get 'er done.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,883 Posts
38spl , 44spl ,45Colt 380acp ,9mm & 45acp
Grandfather’s of handgun cartridges ... still viable options ..
The 38spl is as handy as any... a staple in my carry rotation
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19,593 Posts
Discussion Starter #58

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
18,725 Posts
@bmcgilvray, what is that shooter loaded with?
You mean my o' pistola?

It's loaded from a box of an older lot of Remington 158 grain +P semi-wadcutters without a hollow point. Got a few boxes perhaps 10 years ago. Never saw them before without hollow point and haven't seen them since. Clocks 925 FPs or so out of the four-inch barrel.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,023 Posts
I think the .38 special is sort of the Goldilocks cartridge. Not too anything. It is sort of middle of the road when anything between the shoulders could be said to work. Yes, a .22 or a .17 (if they make them in handguns) can make a bad guy just as dead (with a good hit) as an Uber magnum. Yes an Uber magnum can turn what might be cover into concealment. But for most users the .38 special will do the job and do it fairly well.
 
41 - 61 of 61 Posts
Top